Bears still smiling after conceding 845 points in four games
AUSSIE RULES: It is the type of start to make you burn a guernsey and throw your boots in the Mary River.
Seven months after winning a reserve-grade premiership, newly-promoted Maryborough Bears have conceded a staggering 211.25 points per game, and have an average losing margin of 190.75.
You would not however have known this is a team with, statistically, one of the worst records in amateur footy by the way they acted after their heavy 24.23 (167) to 4.9 (33) loss to Bay Power at Keith Dunne Oval on Saturday.
The boys from the Burra appeared happier than their victorious counterparts.
"We knew it was going to be difficult,” coach Russell Green explained. "At the start of the year we spoke about how it's going to take at least four to five weeks just to catch up to the speed of the game. Not running, but the speed of moving the ball. This week they seemed to really kick it. Even though we were beaten, the boys are happy.
"I think they realised for the first time they can give quality sides a run.”
To the regular punter, the idea of the Bears challenging AFL Wide Bay's top teams seems a long shot.
A fortnight ago, Hervey Bay Bombers scored 45 goals against the Bears. Last week, Brothers Bulldogs kicked 39.
The first-round, 96-point loss to Gympie is the closest they have gone to recording their first win since winning last year's reserve-grade flag.
But as a club, Green said the Bears are fielding two near-full squads each week and they are enjoying their footy. The signs, albeit brief, are certainly there.
For parts of the final quarter against the Power the Bears found their men, worked the ball downfield and earned scoring opportunities.
Granted, the Power gave captain Josh Wheeler an early spell and the match, as a contest, was over, but the Bears doubled their score and those crumbs are what Green will craft into a delicious, humble pie for the side's detractors.
"At the third quarter we spoke about how we want to play the game, to play the same way as we did when we won the comp last year,” Green said.
"They listened and they thought they could do it.
"You try to instil it in players all the time but (on Saturday), they realised they can.”
The Bears host the Anzac Day double-header on Wed- nesday and while Green doesn't expect instant results, he and the players believe a win is not out of the question.
"We're getting two sides on the field and I'm proud of every single player,” he said.